The Pardee & Curtin Lumber Company, formed in 1873 when George W. Curtin and Barton Pardee erected a steam sawmill at Fetterman near Grafton, and incorporated in 1892, is the oldest continuously operating lumber company in West Virginia. In 1888, a disastrous flood destroyed the Fetterman mill, and in 1890 the company erected a band sawmill at Sutton. This mill operated until 1904. Their Palmer mill, which was purchased in 1901 and located on Elk River above Sutton, operated until 1907.
In 1898, Pardee & Curtin purchased a band sawmill at Elizabeth, Wirt County. They moved this mill to Curtin, Nicholas County, near the mouth of Cherry River, where they operated from 1900 to 1925. This was a double-band mill with dry kilns and a planing mill. The company expanded its Nicholas County operations by building a single-band sawmill on Cherry River at Coal Siding in 1905. This was followed by a double-band mill in 1909 at Hominy Falls, which operated until 1921 when it was moved to the mouth of Deer Creek, operating there until 1925. Collectively, these mills produced 720 million board feet of lumber between 1900 and 1925. Logs were brought to sawmills by Pardee & Curtin’s narrow-gauge railroad, the Cherry & Hominy, which had 85 miles of track.
In 1926, the mill, shop, and Shay locomotives at Curtin, Nicholas County, were moved to Bergoo, Webster County. This sawmill operated at the new site from 1928 to 1945 and produced 220 million board feet of lumber. Pardee & Curtin also operated nine deep mines and seven coal tipples in Webster County between 1929 and 1959, producing 23 million tons of coal. At its peak the company employed 2,000 people in the Webster County area.
In 1955, Pardee & Curtin built the first all electric single-band sawmill in the state at Curtin, Webster County. This mill has been modified several times and currently operates three six-foot band mills and has the capacity to produce 25 million board feet per year. The company now leases the mill and functions primarily as a natural resource manager with more than 140,000 acres of timber, coal, oil, and gas properties.
This Article was written by Roy B. Clarkson
Last Revised on October 22, 2010
Brown, D. D. Collection. West Virginia & Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries.
Hennen, Ray V. West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey. Braxton and Clay Counties. Wheeling News Litho. Co., 1917.
Reger, David B. West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey. Nicholas County. Wheeling News Litho. Co., 1921.